Last week, the Boston Globe reported on multiple incidents of sexual harassment experienced by women who work on Beacon Hill. The report came after similar stories have been made public by women who work in both California and Rhode Island’s state legislatures. Boston Area Rape Crisis Center Executive Director Gina Scaramella issued the following statement in response:
“The stories of workplace sexual harassment and assault detailed by the Boston Globe are deeply disturbing. As the Globe’s report shows, sexual harassment and assault in the workplace is not limited to Hollywood. It happens everywhere, including our public institutions that are charged with creating the laws that bar such behavior.
“To create a safe workplace for all, legislative leaders must investigate these complaints and implement explicit workplace safety policies that clearly outline the steps for reporting abuse and the punishments for policy violations. Leaders must then follow through on these policies—without exception.
“As the stories recounted in the Globe clearly show, questions about what a victim said, did, wore, and drank before, during, and after harassment or an assault are wholly irrelevant. Sexual harassment and assault have little to do with sex. The thrill for the offender is in exerting power and control over an intimate part of the victim’s humanity. And while the vast majority of adult victims are women, men get sexually harassed and assaulted, too, as do people who are transgender or gender nonconforming.
“The only way that Beacon Hill’s culture of tolerance for sexual assault and harassment will change—and it must—is for House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stan Rosenberg to implement rigorous workplace safety policies. Workplace trainings designed to educate employees about appropriate workplace behavior are ineffective unless they are regularly scheduled on at least an annual basis. They must also be complemented with serious workplace safety policies that are backed by top leadership. Sexual violence prevention is not a box to be checked. It is a commitment that must be kept.”